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22nd October 6 PM
"Hello, Julia," said Mayur. "I was about to call you. Are you all right there?" He put the phone on speaker mode.
"I'm feeling okay," Julia said. "I've planned to leave for Hyderabad tonight. When are you both traveling?"
"You please go ahead with your plan. We'll stay for another few days as I need to question the suspects who live here."
"All right" Julia paused. "Priya's mother, Mrs. Sumitra Bedi, and Poonam would like to meet you. Why don't you talk to Mrs. Bedi now?"
There was a rustling sound before Mayur heard a female voice. "Hello, Mr. Varma. It's Mrs. Bedi speaking. I would like to meet you to discuss Priya." She paused. "Is tomorrow morning okay for you?"
"Um…" Mayur mumbled. "Sure." He paused and then said, "but what if we speak the matter over the phone now?"
"No, Mr. Varma. I want the discussion to be discreet. My daughter, Poonam, too is eager to share some information with you."
Mayur didn't want to lose this opportunity. His meeting with Mrs. Bedi and Poonam would surely throw some light on the investigation.
"All right," said Mayur. He looked at Aisha and then said, "Where are we meeting? At your home?"
Mayur waited for Mrs. Bedi to answer.
"What if we visit your hotel? We'll have more privacy there."
Mayur too thought he could interview better at his hotel. "All right. What time can you come over?"
"At nine o clock tomorrow morning," said Mrs. Bedi.
"Okay," Mayur said. "We're eager to see you tomorrow at ten."
"I have a request for you, Mr. Varma," Mrs. Bedi said.
"Please keep our meeting secret. I don't want anyone to know about it."
"Don't worry, Mrs. Bedi," Mayur said. "I'll keep the matter undisclosed."
"Oh, thank you, Mr. Varma. I'm looking forward to seeing you tomorrow."
Mayur ended the call and turned to Aisha. "I hope our meeting with Mrs. Bedi and Poonam will be fruitful and they reveal to us some important details about Priya. I am eager to find out more. Also, did you notice something strange about Poonam's fiancé at the funeral?"
"Um…no? What was it?"
"Chirag maintained a stony silence and didn't show any signs of sadness," said Mayur. "And he stood quite away from Priya's fiancé, Nayan."
"I think you made a good observation. I also noticed the only persons who cried at the funeral were Priya's parents. I was surprised Poonam wasn't as sad as her parents."
"Can you guess what might be the reason?" Mayur asked.
"Well," said Aisha. "Poonam is Priya's sister and she should be equally saddened. I really wonder what might be the reason."
"Julia told us that Mr. Bedi is a wealthy and well-known businessman and has earned good wealth. And because he has no male heir, all his wealth will be equally inherited by his daughters."
"You mean," said Aisha, "Poonam had the motivation to kill Priya for the inheritance?"
"That's correct. If Poonam is not directly involved or supported the plan, her fiancé, Chirag might have the motivation to kill Priya and tried to make Poonam a sole proprietor of the assets."
"I really admire you, Mayur," said Aisha. "And now I understand why Poonam didn't cry at the funeral. No doubt both she and Chirag should be on our suspect's list."
Mayur nodded. "I need to thoroughly interrogate them and find out if they played a role in the murder."
"But why did Poonam volunteer to meet you if she is part of the conspiracy?" Aisha asked.
"Maybe, she wanted to cover it up and try to make us treat her as the suspect."
"She must be very smart and think we're imbeciles." Aisha smiled.
22nd October 7 PM
Mayur tossed the India Today magazine back on the coffee table and looked at Aisha, who was watching a horror movie on the television. "Are we eating supper outside?"
Aisha took the remote and turned the TV off. "Yes, I'm interested in going out and eating at the restaurant."
Mayur rose. "Let's go then." He walked outside along with Aisha to the restaurant nestled within the hotel. They waited for a waiter to usher them to an empty table.
Aisha preferred eating North Indian food - tandoori rotis and masala curries. Mayur ordered a tomato soup to start with. He chose to eat tandoori rotis, palak paneer, and vegetable Palau.
The waiter took the order and left. Aisha propped her elbows on the table. "Coming back to our investigation," she said. "I wonder why Mr. Shekar Bedi is not coming along with Mrs. Bedi."
"They may be afraid that Mr. Bedi might prevent them from meeting us. And that makes me believe that the perpetrator is known to Mr. and Mrs. Bedi."
Aisha looked sideways, seemingly pondering over the matter. She removed her elbows from the table. "You know," she said, "I tried to speak with Poonam on one occasion during the funeral by getting closer to her, but she avoided me by distancing herself from me. Your theory that the inheritance is the motive makes me understand why Poonam behaved so."